In March 2009, Endeca (www.endeca.com) took aim at "speed, scalability, and simplicity" with the McKinley release of its Information Access Platform. On Monday, Oct. 26, Endeca "[extended] that simplicity theme," according to Paul Sonderegger, the company's chief strategist. Endeca announced partnerships with SAP AG and Informatica on that day. Under the terms of the OEM agreement, Endeca will integrate Xcelsius software, SAP BusinessObjects Intelligent Search software, PowerCenter, and PowerExchange into the Endeca Information Access Platform. These partnerships will address two very different issues for Endeca and its customers, says Sonderegger.
He used an engineer at a company such as Ford as a user example. If an engineer working on a new SUV needs to redesign an exhaust manifold, he might want a lightweight bolt that isn't terribly expensive. Informatica works on the data ingest side, feeding it to the search engine. "One of the data sources that needs to inform the bolt decision is inventory," says Sonderegger. So Informatica extracts that data and applies its analytics capabilities before feeding it into Endeca's engine; that engine then uses SAP's technology to display it in a way that allows the engineer to compare things such as price, weight, and availability.
"Informatica offers industry-leading capabilities in accessing data from across many transactional systems. SAP's Xcelsius visualization software offers industry-leading visualizations for dashboarding and decision portals," says Hadley Reynolds, senior director, search and digital marketplace technologies at IDC. "Integrating these two toolsets for accessing and presenting data tightly into the Endeca application development environment helps Endeca customers to leapfrog two of the most expensive and time-consuming hurdles they face in developing integrated search/BI [business intelligence] (or search-driven) applications."
According to Sonderegger, SAP and Informatica already have presences in many of the companies Endeca serves. Customers who already have either of these applications deployed can use skills they already have in-house; customers who do not can tap the large number of consultants already familiar with the products. As a result, the time and costs associated with deploying Endeca's search applications are greatly reduced.
"The most important trend in the search and BI markets today is the accelerating pace of their convergence," Reynolds says. "Business decision makers increasingly appreciate the advantages of being able to ‘see' structured transactional data and related unstructured content at the same time, on the same screen." Endeca is making that possible. As Reynolds puts it, "Both enterprise search firms and much of the BI vendor community talk about offering these capabilities, but Endeca is further along than most in incorporating them into a product that can help users create these advanced integrating applications."
Sonderegger adds, "In the BI world you have to know what questions will be asked and what data you will have when they're asked. ... Our search application shines when you don't know what is going to be asked."
There is also a little something in this new partnership for Endeca's intelligence customers, namely, the licensing of SAP's query federation tool, Inxight SmartDiscovery Awareness Server. Intelligence customers will be able to send off a query about "uranium enrichment," for example, to multiple information sources such as Endeca applications, proprietary databases, The New York Times, and The Washington Post and expect to see results in one screen. "This comes straight from the traditional search world," says Sonderegger. "We've added our own twist. ... When results come back, the analyst will be able to do faceted browsing across search results."
The SAP and Informatica announcements come on the heels of an Oct. 19 announcement about an expansion of the Endeca Extend program. Through this program, customers can extract metadata to provide new facets for guided navigation, cluster related topics, offer landing pages, and improve search relevancy. Leveraging the McKinley platform, and, specifically, Endeca's Content Acquisition System (CAS), partners can build integrations to a public application programming interface (API) supported by Endeca. So far, the list of participating partners includes Alias-i, Inc.; Lexalytics; MetaCarta; and Semantia. Endeca says there are at least four more partnerships in the works. According to Sonderegger, these partnerships allow customers "ways to slice, dice, and refine their queries."
"Endeca has built a track record as an innovator in providing application solutions that exhibit the working characteristics of search while at the same time mining both structured and unstructured sources," Reynolds says. "The Endeca product architecture is built to facilitate the internal transformations needed to integrate and analyze the data and also to present views of the data that are easy for the user to browse, change, and understand."
"One of the interesting things about this is that it sits right at the intersection of search and BI," says Sonderegger. All of the partnerships are part of the goals set out for the McKinley release at the beginning of 2009. "The theme that we're really focusing on is this simple extensibility inside the enterprise." In Reynolds' estimation, it would seem that Endeca is well on its way to doing just that: "That experience should be intuitive, as the business has developed the application to suit a particular business context, presenting the most important data and content elements that professionals working in that context would require to monitor their business, execute ad hoc analytics, and make decisions."